herald

Wednesday 18 October 2017

'Pestered' customers in new fight against banks

MORE than 100 people who lost hundreds of thousands of euro after they were "badgered" by major banks to make bad financial investments are launching claims against them, a solicitor has revealed.

Owen Swaine from Swaine solicitors in Galway says he has received more than 100 calls from stressed and suicidal people who were pursued by Irish banks to make massive but unwise investments.

Mr Swaine told the Herald: "These people are desperate and in some cases suicidal. They're people who've lost their whole life savings. They thought they were comfortable; they thought they had a nest egg, and they were happy to leave their money in their deposit account."

"But they were badgered, cajoled and coerced [to invest their money] and they took the advice of the bank, and a lot of these people would have been with their bank for 30 years."

Elderly clients were advised by financial institutions to take out loans in order to invest their money, which Owen described as reckless.

"A lot of people would have had significant deposit accounts in the bank and in many cases, the bank officials tended to approach the clients and encourage them to invest in certain products, quite often using aggressive sales techniques."

"One client in particular . . . every time he called into the bank, he was badgered to do something with his money. He was 69 years of age and he was advised to do something totally unwise for his circumstances."

He stressed: "This has destroyed the wealth of the middle class in Ireland. We're shocked at some of the figures we're hearing. We would have expected a lot of investments around €200,000 and €300,000, but quite a few were worth €2million and €3m."

The solicitor is now processing the applications by people, who responded to a paper advertisement by Owen, and many will be brought to the Ombudsman.

He insisted: "They weren't independent financial advisers, and the reason I say that is because any independent adviser would never advise someone to have all their money in one asset class. They would advise them to put 10pc in property for example and tell them to keep a minimum of 20pc in cash."

hnews@herald.ie

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